Deistic Dialogues and Exchanges
A free exchange of ideas is essential to progress. The World Union of Deists strongly promotes openly speaking and writing between people with different views. We believe every topic should be open for debate. In this spirit we have this page of Deistic dialogues. All of the below thought provoking exchanges and dialogues took place between Deists and non-Deists over the years. I hope you find them enlightening and entertaining! To preserve the feelings and passions of the participants we've kept the format the same as we received it.
As you can tell from the first exchange, it is very important for Deists to DO all they can to get the word out about Deism. Things like calling in to talk radio shows and writing letters to the editor of newspapers and magazine openly speaking and writing about Deism and the World Union of Deists helps a lot of people!
I'd like to thank all the Deists who took the time to write and to answer questions and comments from non-Deists. Also, I'd like to thank fellow active Deist John Kettner, our Deist contact for New Jersey, for coming up with the idea for this page!
Progress! Bob Johnson
The following is a column I wrote for www.strike-the-root.com in response to an article they linked to by former US President Jimmy Carter. Carter's article attempted to class the Bible, Koran, etc. as "Words of God" and to address their anti-women teachings. A clergyman wrote a rebuttal to my column, which is also below. I wrote a counter rebuttal to the Christian clergyman but it was not accepted by strike-the-root.com. I'm publishing the counter rebuttal below so people won't falsely believe that the preacher's rebuttal successfully countered my arguments in my first column.
Be Careful What You Call “The Word Of God”
By Robert L. Johnson
Strike-the-root.com had a link reading “The Words of God Do Not Justify Cruelty to Women.” It linked to an article by former US President Jimmy Carter, a sincere born-again Christian. Mr. Carter wrote an article deploring the abusive and unreasonable treatment of women by “revealed” religions. The title of his article is the same as that of the link at www.strike-the-root.com. This title assumes too much.
It is a huge, and based on realities throughout history and currently in the Middle East, etc., violence promoting mistake to make the assumption that a particular book is “the Word of God.” The consequences are deadly and progress retarding. The very title of Mr. Carter’s article makes this deadly assumption. In his article it is clear he is referring to the Bible (both the Hebrew and Christian/Old and New Testaments) and the Quran. To the detriment of humanity, these books are believed to be communication from God to mankind by billions of people and are therefore referred to as “the Word of God.”
For almost two thousand years the Bible has been interpreted to mean whatever one wants it to mean. During the American Civil War the Bible was used by the Union to denounce slavery and by the Confederacy to support slavery. Likewise, people have used it to belittle women and to show, as Jimmy Carter attempted, that the Bible holds women to be of equal value to men. Objectively, the Bible is overwhelmingly anti-women.
Starting with the creation myth, it is the weak-link, Eve, who first falls prey to the talking serpent/snake and disobeys God by eating of the tree of knowledge. Leo Strauss, the father of the Judeo-Christian based neoconservative movement, said in his speech and essay Jerusalem and Athens, regarding the fall of man myth, "Thus the stage was set for the fall of our first parents. The first move came from the serpent, the most cunning of all the beasts of the field. It seduced the woman into disobedience and then the woman seduced the man. The seduction moves from the lowest to the highest."
In Genesis 3:16 the Bible god had this to say to Eve after she and her husband Adam ate of the tree of knowledge, “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
Mr. Carter uses this quote to try to make the point that the Bible is not anti-women: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
It is true that the Bible contains the verse that Mr. Carter uses from Galatians. However, it also contains much more that makes the selected quote null and void. For example, from the time of birth the female is considered to be very much lacking in value to the male. In Leviticus 12: 1 – 5 this “Word of God” teaches that a woman is unclean for seven days if she gives birth to a boy, but if she gives birth to a girl she will be unclean for two weeks. In the first place, why would a woman who brings life, the greatest gift known, into the world be considered “unclean”? And why would she be unclean twice as long for giving birth to a girl than if she had given birth to a boy?
In Leviticus 27 we see that the Bible god values men at fifty shekels and women at only thirty shekels. The same Bible god put a value on male children ages five to twenty years at twenty shekels and for girls of the same age at only ten shekels, or half the value of boys. This anti-female patter holds true even for little boys and little girls for the Bible god says to value little boys from one month old to five years at five shekels and little girls of the same age at only three shekels.
In the New Testament 1 Timothy 2: 11-15 says, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
It appears by the above verse that some of the reason for women being inferior to men in the Judeo-Christian “Word of God” is due to Eve being deceived by the talking snake and that Eve was formed after Adam. This reflects a lie since the Bible says that Adam also ate of the forbidden fruit on the magic tree of knowledge knowing full well that the Bible god told him not to. Regarding Adam being first formed, that is true if you believe the Bible story at Genesis 2: 20-22 which says that the Bible god took a rib from Adam and made Eve out of Adam’s rib. But if you decide to believe “the Word of God” at Genesis 1: 27 you would believe differently than the writer of 1 Timothy because that verse says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
Jimmy Carter wrote that “Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God.” I’m not familiar with Jesus taking a stand for women other than the Galatians quote Mr. Carter already used. Moses, the so-called prophets and Muhammad never to my knowledge have spoken out for the benefit of women. In fact, I know that Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in church.” If you believe this Christian teaching you would have to strongly believe that women are very much inferior to men. It’s interesting to note that this quote contains the statement, “they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.” Jesus is said to have said in Matthew 5: 17, “Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”
Jimmy Carter seems to inadvertently make the point that the various and contradicting (and even self-contradicting) “Words of God” are meaningless due to their incongruous structure when he writes, “Although not having training in religion or theology, I understand that the carefully selected verses found in the holy scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar Biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.”
Thomas Paine also made this point in a letter to a friend regarding his powerful book on God and religion, The Age of Reason. Paine wrote to his friend, “In your letter of the twentieth of March, you give me several quotations from the Bible, which you call the Word of God, to show me that my opinions on religion are wrong, and I could give you as many, from the same book to show that yours are not right; consequently, then, the Bible decides nothing, because it decides any way, and every way, one chooses to make it. “
One of the primary shackles on humanity that must be broken is the hold the various “revealed” religions have on humanity and many of the individuals who make up humanity. The beliefs and lies taught by these self-proclaimed “revealed” religions have been used by the clergy and by the state to keep people in bondage and to stifle progress through fear and superstition. A great example of this can be found in Romans 13: 1-7 which teaches people to obey the powers that be because they are “ordained of God” and that the rulers (the state) are for good, not evil. It goes on in its nonsensical teaching that those who resist are damned by God. This type of thinking can only lead to tyranny and slavery.
Mr. Carter states that the main point he and his fellow “elders” want to get across is “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable." The only way he and the elders can legitimately make this point is to be honest and courageous and openly state that none of the books claimed by many to be the “Words of God” are from God or a “Higher Authority.” This is necessary because all three of the Abrahamic “holy books” are full of “justification of discrimination against women and girls”, not to mention justification for slavery itself. And billions of sincere people mistakenly believe these teachings are from God because they falsely believe that their particular book is “THE Word of God.” This unfounded belief leads to terrible and reprehensible actions which brings misery and suffering to the world.
Not By Bread Alone: A Response to Robert Johnson's "Be
Careful What You Call 'The Word of God'"
Not By Bread Alone: A Response to Robert Johnson's "Be Careful What You Call 'The Word of God'"
by Lane Connelly
by Lane Connelly
As a regular reader and new contributor to Strike The Root, one of the things I can say I most appreciate is the forum for the open exchange of ideas among those who seek to live lives of liberty and freedom. We come from diverse backgrounds and certainly exhibit different ideas about what constitutes freedom. One good example of this is the difference between Mr. Robert L. Johnson and I. Mr. Johnson – a former Roman Catholic and now Deist – recently published an article in which he took to task former president Jimmy Carter for referring to the Christian Scriptures as the “Word of God.” This criticism ultimately extends to all truth claims made by so-called “revealed religions,” especially insofar as an ancient religious text is regarded as divine or authoritative.
In a fashion typical of the cultured despisers of religion (Schleiermacher’s term, not mine), Mr. Johnson handpicked a series of problematic texts contained in both Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, and then used them to suggest that either (a) the texts and therefore the religion are inherently unconcerned with issues related to justice and freedom, and (b) these texts and religions are dangerous because of the violence wrought when claiming something to be “The Word of God.” What this suggests to me is that Mr. Johnson fails to employ any sort of modern hermeneutic to his reading of the texts involved.
When I was in divinity school, we wrestled mightily with what it meant to be modern, critically thinking people who also held an allegiance to Christianity. An inordinate amount of time was devoted to looking at issues of gender, sexuality, race, as well as to social ills that have emerged throughout the years due to blind application of these texts. No whitewashing occurred in the divinity school I attended. We knew the text that drew us into faith was also one fraught with danger if not handled carefully. While my first inclination was to take each text that Mr. Johnson offered and answer each one, I thought it better to explain how texts are read and applied today by the overwhelming majority of scholars and clerics.
Before I do so, let me say that I have the same objections to the texts written about that Mr. Johnson does. They are – in fact – problematic and have been used for oppressive purposes. (NOTE: A very good overview is found in the groundbreaking book Texts of Terror by Phylis Tribble.) I wish I could say that this was something that only happened in the past, but the truth of the matter is that every sincere faith practitioner must acknowledge that there are those out there who still misuse these texts to oppress any number of people. We even must confess that certain texts seemingly contradict one another. With these acknowledgements, let’s move on to how the texts are actually read in mainline circles.
Outside of fundamentalist circles, you will find very few modern Christians who read Genesis – or most of the Old Testament for that matter – as history or science. I for one do not believe Adam and Eve were actual historical persons. Textual exegesis in the original Hebrew shows us that Genesis 1:1-2:2 is a writing with a different origin than Genesis 2:2 and following. Editors redacted the texts, probably in the post-exilic period of Israel’s history. These stories are attempts to make sense of the origins of the world, and were probably passed around fires and tables for generations before they were ever written down. Does that mean that there is not a moral element in the stories, or that a lack of historicity renders them “untrue” in the most existential sense? Of course not! Moral stories are found in every culture, most often under the guise of religion.
When it comes to legal codes (think Leviticus), we can easily see through textual research that the complex code of 613 laws evolved and emerged over a long period of time. Not unlike our modern legal codes, Israelite law was problematic. Like most ancient near eastern cultures, the Israelites did not view women as equal to men; rather, women were considered property. Further, in a nomadic, desert culture, women and girls were considered a liability because they were an additional mouth to feed and not capable of contributing to the survival of the household in same way as a prized son (as the father of a beautiful 2 ˝ year old daughter, I cannot imagine this line of thinking). Why do I point this out? Because it becomes clear that the horrendous treatment of women under Hebrew law was the result of social constructs common to the region, and are not peculiar to Judaism or Christianity. It is simple enough for modern Christians to look at such texts and reject their applicability to life in our times.
Sadly, the New Testament witness on women is also problematic, as Mr. Johnson points out. Several times women are told to keep silent in church. Was there really a good religious reason for this? Some scholars have suggested that native religions in parts of the Mediterranean were led by women, and thus early church leaders were trying to find a way to differentiate themselves from the surrounding culture. While this is a possibility, it is more highly likely that what we see in the these texts (called Haustfeln by scholars), simply reflect the household codes of the ancient Roman world, when the idea of the paterfamilias reigned supreme as the model of organization, from the Empire to the private home. Again, what we see here is the inclusion of socially constructed realities into religious texts.
The job of the person of faith is to carefully examine the truth claims of the texts to which they grant authority. In the case of both Hebrew and Christian Scripture (I am only speaking for texts my faith finds authoritative, though I assume the principle is universal), it is imperative to discern what has eternal value, and what is based on the social constructs of the time, and are thus irrelevant to modern discussion. In this way, the text cannot everywhere be read literally. Indeed, James Fowler, working with the ideas of human development espoused by Piaget and moral development espoused by Kohlberg, designed stages of faith development. The stage of development that most closely associates God as anthropomorphic and the Bible as literal is Stage 2, the literal or mythic worldview. Though commonly associated with school aged children, some adults are never able to move from this immature approach to faith. (NOTE: Fowler asserted that most people made it to Stage 3, an “adolescent” stage in development, and generally progressed no farther. In Stage 3, faith is exhibited by conformity to the expectations of others).
A perfect example of how this plays itself out is in terms of women’s ordination to ministry. I belong to a denomination that claims that the Bible is its primary authoritative text, yet it ordains women in spite of the passages that prohibit a woman speaking or having authority in a church. In my years of ministry, I have met some very wonderfully talented women who are leaders. So, how are these things held in tension with one another? The answer lies in the fact that the Bible cannot be read as a set of isolated texts, with people picking one or two pet passages or verses and building dogma upon them. Whether doing constructive theology or trying to debunk the Bible as God’s Word, picking a few select texts is called “proof-texting,” a practice no theologian or cleric worth their salt would want to participate in. The primary way the Bible is interpreted today is to look at the overarching themes offered, and to build constructive theology based on themes rather than isolated texts. The great reformer Martin Luther – a man with his own set of flaws – referred to the Bible as the manger in which Jesus was placed. It is not perfect, there may be splinters or crooked boards, but inside of that manger is the place where God can be found in spite of its flaws.
The origin of my interest in liberty lies in both the history of our nation and in the Bible itself. When I look to the overarching themes offered in the scriptures, I see themes of struggle and liberation that transcend space and time. From Abraham striking out on his own to follow a vision God had given him to the flight from Egypt; from exile in Babylon to the return of the homeland, the Old Testament is especially rich with themes and narratives that clearly show the problems of empire and will-to-power among the ruling classes. Some of these are grand narratives involving the rise and fall of kingdoms; others are stories of ordinary men and women seeking to live faithful lives. Regardless of the scale of the narratives, we see how power corrupts, how rulers cannot be trusted, and how it is up to individuals to secure freedom. We see the mistakes made when the people of Israel begged to be like other nations and have a king. We see the corruption of David as he kills Uriah in order to cover up an affair with Bathsheba. We hear the stories of the corrupt kings and queens that follow. We get a glimpse of the Maccabees fighting against the Seleucid invaders that desecrated their altars. The point to all of these stories is that people are not to put trust in princes, for each is a son of man in whom there is no help. (Psalm 146:3)
As we move into the New Testament, the overarching theme is not that women should remain silent, but that there is liberation to be found through faith, a faith that is made alive through justice, peace, mercy and love. Jesus forces no one to follow him, and those who gather around him do so voluntarily. The disciples are taught to love their neighbors, to love the downtrodden, to bring the hope of liberation to those who find themselves bound by chains – be they literal, spiritual, emotional, mental. Aside from the few cherry-picked passages mandating female silence, we know from both textual and historical research that women often held powerful positions in the early church. Many speculate that Mary Magdalene was one of the chief financial backers of the ministry of Jesus. It was this Mary Magdalene, of course, who was the first to report the resurrection to the other disciples, thus securing the title Apostle to the Apostles. St. Paul uses the same Greek term (diaknonos, or servant, a cognate of deacon) to describe himself as well as several women, asserting that they held the same position in the church.
Most interesting for the discussion here is the book of Revelation, which many fundamentalists and evangelicals believe is about the future. The alternative way to read that text is to understand it as something from the past, something that has already happened. It is written during a time of great persecution of the early church under the Emperor Nero. Christians are being killed in all sorts of new and creative ways, often for the entertainment of the people. As warm blood colored the ground of the Coliseum an unmistakable shade of red, a man known only as John wrote a letter to bring comfort to the understandably frightened Christians in the Empire. In order to do this and not find himself executed, John used all sorts of vague language to describe the players in the bloody production. While the tinfoil hat conspiracy folks may be convinced that the antichrist is going to emerge with 666 written on his head, those with understanding can look upon the alpha-numeric value of 666 and see the author was actually talking about Nero, and that the great plagues and sufferings described in the book of Revelation was a discourse on what was happening in ancient Rome. In point of fact, Revelation, read properly and carefully, is an extended tirade against unjust oligarchs who were persecuting a religious minority.
I am a Christian and a libertarian. For many, these two seem incongruous. For me, it is a way of life. As a Christian, I have chosen to not participate in the so-called culture wars, and leave each person to live according to their own conscience so long as their way of life is both peaceful and voluntary. You will not find me foaming at the mouth over conservative pet issues like homosexuality and abortion. When I read the Bible, I don’t read of Jesus forcing anything on anyone, but rather issuing an invitation to voluntarily live in accordance with his teachings. The problem with this is – as Gandhi pointed out – that so few Christians seem to actually live the message of Jesus.
Truth be told, I generally enjoy Mr. Johnson’s writings. I have read many of his essays and have agreed with him on several points. The issue of religion is where we must depart, however. While I respect Mr. Johnson and his choice to become a Deist, I did not feel as if I could let him portray the texts that I hold sacred as being primarily anti-woman or anti-liberty. To say, “[o]bjectively, the Bible is anti-woman” is to read the text narrowly, without making a distinction between social and cultural constructs that have no bearing on the central spiritual messages contained therein. It is to make an assertion that the only way to approach the faith of revealed religions is to take every word of that faith’s text literally. If this were the standard of true faith, then I – and the vast majority of clergy I know – could never stand in the pulpit.
Deist Counter Rebuttal
Reason Will Set You Free: A Counter Rebuttal to Lane Connelly's "Not By Bread Alone"
by Robert L. Johnson
I’d like to respond to Lane Connelly’s column which was a rebuttal to my column, Be Careful What You Call The Word of God. I share Mr. Connelly’s appreciation and belief that the free and open exchange of ideas is crucial to freedom and liberty. There should not be any topic that is protected from frank and open debate. If progress is to be achieved in the world there cannot be any sacred cows. This is why I like the saying, “Sacred cows make great hamburger!”
Mr. Connelly wrote that my statements demonstrating the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are “inherently unconcerned with issues related to justice and freedom” and that “these texts and religions are dangerous because of the violence wrought when claiming something to be ‘The Word of God’” suggests that I failed “to employ any sort of modern hermeneutic” to my reading of the texts involved.
Not being familiar with the word “hermeneutic”, I looked it up and I must say I strongly disagree with Mr. Connelly. The definition I found for modern hermeneutics is: “encompasses not just issues involving the written text, but everything in the interpretative process. This includes verbal and nonverbal forms of communication as well as prior aspects that impact communication . . .”
Regarding nonverbal communications, I’d say when an Israeli (but American made) F-16 drops American made cluster bombs on Palestinian or Lebanese civilians, or when an Islamic fundamentalist blows-up a girls school, or when a Catholic shoots a Protestant or vice versa these are strong nonverbal communications claiming the actor in each of these cases believes not only that their “Word of God” is “THE Word of God” but that their targets are enemies of God because their interpretation of these ancient writings differ from their own.
Mr. Connelly writes, “. . . let me say that I have the same objections to the texts written about that Mr. Johnson does. They are – in fact – problematic and have been used for oppressive purposes. (NOTE: A very good overview is found in the groundbreaking book Texts of Terror by Phylis Tribble.) I wish I could say that this was something that only happened in the past, but the truth of the matter is that every sincere faith practitioner must acknowledge that there are those out there who still misuse these texts to oppress any number of people. We even must confess that certain texts seemingly contradict one another. With these acknowledgements, let’s move on to how the texts are actually read in mainline circles.”
The above admissions of fact by Mr. Connelly, that there are texts in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures that are “problematic and have been used for oppressive purposes”, that these texts are to this day serving these oppressive purposes, and that the sacred Scriptures contain texts that seemingly contradict one another all make the point that neither the Old Testament or the New Testament are the “Word of God.” In my column I also included the Koran as not being the Word of God, however, Mr. Connelly doesn’t mention and doesn’t seem interested in defending the Koran as being sacred Scripture and the “Word of God.” This is probably because Mr. Connelly went to a Christian divinity school and wasn’t “educated” to believe the Koran is the Word of God, only that the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God. As Thomas Paine wrote, “Education makes all the difference.”
Thomas Paine also wrote that theologians and clergy can argue and debate with each other all they want about doctrine, but when they debate with Deists it’s a debate about facts. The fact that Mr. Connelly makes showing that even Christian clergy such as himself don’t believe such things as Adam and Eve being real people, and that they don’t believe most of the Old Testament clearly demonstrates the weakness in the Bible and instantly removes the possibility that it could be the Word of God.
I don’t know Mr. Connelly personally, but I assume he is a very sincere man. I respect all sincere people whether they agree with me or not. All sincere people who truly believe in God obviously believe God is real. All sincere people who believe in God must recognize that if God is real, we can never get closer to God or develop a better understanding of God by following teachings and writings that are proven to be false. We know that our reason, like life itself, is a gift from God. All sincere people who believe in God therefore need to ask themselves if believing in something written by men that requires us to reject or to suspend our God-given reason can really help us to acquire a better understanding of God.
Mr. Connelly’s rejection of the Genesis myths of creation and of Adam and Eve in particular makes Christianity meaningless. The whole purpose of God becoming a man in the form of Jesus and of suffering and dying on the cross is to redeem mankind from original sin which was committed by Adam and Eve who listened to the talking snake/serpent/devil and ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Eating this forbidden fruit brought sin into the world, as the Christian myth goes, and, in accordance with the practices of the Hebrew Bible god, the sins of the parents stain the souls of the children. The only way to prevent every generation from burning in hell was to have God come down to earth in the form of Jesus and shed his sacred blood for all of mankind. But if you don’t believe in Adam and Eve, you don’t believe in the Christian doctrine of original sin, therefore making the sacrifice of Jesus meaningless.
The American Revolutionary War hero and Deist Ethan Allen wrote a letter to his clergyman cousin regarding this matter, telling him he didn’t believe in the Adam and Eve story. His cousin wrote back saying that without the original sin committed by Adam and Eve, Christianity would not be necessary. Ethan Allen wrote him back saying he agreed, Christianity is NOT necessary!
It’s interesting to note that Mr. Connelly refers to James Fowler and his stages of faith. According to Fowler, the last and most advanced stage of faith is “’Universalizing’ faith, or what some might call ‘enlightenment’”. The only universal idea relating to God is the simple belief in God. As Thomas Paine wrote in his essay Of the Religion of Deism Compared With the Christian Religion, “Every person, of whatever religious denomination he may be, is a DEIST in the first article of his Creed.” This is where Deists stop, with the belief in God. They don’t add on doctrines like original sin, etc. In fact, Deists don’t pretend to know anything beyond “God exists.” And this belief that God exists is not from some book written by men, but it is from the application of our reason on the designs in Nature. To a Deist, the designs in Nature, the study of which is science, presupposes a Designer of Nature.
Mr. Connelly writes that he belongs to a Christian sect that claims the Bible as its “primary authoritative text.” Why do we need “authoritative text”? This demonstrates how Deism is very libertarian in nature. Deism has no authoritative clergy or authoritative texts. Deists believe that we are designed by our Designer to be self-sufficient through God’s gift to us of reason.
Mr. Connelly goes on to say, “the Bible cannot be read as a set of isolated texts, with people picking one or two pet passages or verses and building dogma upon them. Whether doing constructive theology or trying to debunk the Bible as God’s Word, picking a few select texts is called “proof-texting,” a practice no theologian or cleric worth their salt would want to participate in. The primary way the Bible is interpreted today is to look at the overarching themes offered, and to build constructive theology based on themes rather than isolated texts.”
It’s a fact that the Bible has many verses in it that degrade women, that calls for the execution of homosexuals and of disobedient children, that condone and support slavery, etc. Should we just ignore these disgusting passages and commands that pretend to be from God? If we don’t ignore these evil teachings we see that they themselves are “overarching themes” of the Bible. Especially the overarching theme in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament that the Hebrews are “above all people on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6) and that the Gentiles are here to serve God’s chosen ones and that the nation that will not serve Israel will be utterly wasted by God (Isaiah 60:12). Are these Bible themes we should follow?
As far as finding liberty in the Bible, I can’t agree with Mr. Connelly who uses examples like “Abraham striking out on his own to follow a vision God had given him” when we read in Genesis 12:13-20 that Abraham used his wife/half-sister Sarah as a pimp uses a woman to make material gains. Most of the examples he uses are nothing but cases of mass genocide committed by the Jews against their neighbors.
If you read Deuteronomy 17:15 you’ll see the Bible god tells Israel that he will set a king over them. How will the people know who the Bible god wants for king? The clergy/priests will tell them the Bible god’s choice. If you go up a few verses to 17:12 you’ll see those who don’t listen to the clergy, to the priests, should be executed! This doesn’t sound much like liberty to me!
I couldn’t believe it when I read, “Jesus forces no one to follow him, and those who gather around him do so voluntarily.” What about burning in hell for eternity?!!! When I was a born-again Christian that is exactly what I believed – if you believe in Jesus you go to heaven, if you don’t you go to hell. The reason I believed it is because the Bible says so and says so often. (John 3:18, John 3:36, etc., etc., etc.)
Mr. Connelly writes, “Aside from the few cherry-picked passages mandating female silence, we know from both textual and historical research that women often held powerful positions in the early church. Many speculate that Mary Magdalene was one of the chief financial backers of the ministry of Jesus. It was this Mary Magdalene, of course, who was the first to report the resurrection to the other disciples, thus securing the title Apostle to the Apostles.” The anti-women passages were not cherry picked, they are peppered liberally throughout the Bible. And they are important statements. How many people would support a social or political organization that said women should keep their mouths shut and obey men if those statements were in their manifesto or rules of conduct?
Regarding women holding powerful positions in the early church, that has no bearing on what is in the Bible. The influence women had in the early church must had been very minimal due to the anti-women teachings that remained in the Bible when the men voted which books would be the Word of God and which would not make the cut.
The assumption Mr. Connelly makes when he writes “It was Mary Magdalene, our course, who was the first to report the resurrection to the other disciples”, is very telling of why the Bible, or any manmade book, has been imposed upon humanity for so long as being the Word of God – people do not objectively question it! There are four different and contradictory tales of who Jesus first appeared to after he came back to life! It’s like the creation myth, just take your pick of which ever one you like the best!
Mr. Connelly doesn’t put much faith in the Bible’s book of Revelation. He doesn’t look at it like most of the Christian Evangelicals and fundamentalists, that is, as a book predicting the future. Mr. Connelly sees it more as a piece of history written by a Christian named John who was trying to encourage his fellow Christians of his day to keep the faith. However, when he writes, “While the tinfoil hat conspiracy folks may be convinced that the antichrist is going to emerge with 666 written on his head, those with understanding can look upon the alpha-numeric value of 666 and see the author was actually talking about Nero, and that the great plagues and sufferings described in the book of Revelation was a discourse on what was happening in ancient Rome. In point of fact, Revelation, read properly and carefully, is an extended tirade against unjust oligarchs who were persecuting a religious minority.”, it appears he’s trying to make “mainstream” Christians, that is Christians who don’t really believe the contents of the Bible but who seem afraid to let go of the Christian tag, look more respectable by referring to literalist Christians as “tinfoil hat conspiracy folks”. And when he writes about the alpha-numeric value of 666 actually meaning the Roman Emperor Nero, I’m not sure if he’s aware of the fact that the oldest versions of Revelation don’t use 666, but instead they use 616.
The American Deist, Thomas Jefferson, wrote to General Alexander Smyth who had written about the meaning of Revelation and wanted input from Jefferson on his work. On January 17, 1825 Jefferson wrote him saying that he “considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams. I was, therefore, well pleased to see, in your first proof sheet, that it was said to be not the production of St. John, but of Cerinthus, a century after the death of that apostle. Yet the change of the author’s name does not lessen the extravagances of the composition; and come they from whomsoever they may, I cannot so far respect them as to consider them as an allegorical narrative of events, past or subsequent. There is not coherence enough in them to countenance any suite of rational ideas. You will judge, therefore, from this how impossible I think it that either your explanation, or that of any man in ‘the heavens above, or on the earth beneath,’ can be a correct one. What has no meaning admits no explanation; and pardon me if I say, with the candor of friendship, that I think your time too valuable, and your understanding of too high an order, to be wasted on these paralogisms. You will perceive, I hope, also, that I do not consider them as revelations of the Supreme Being, whom I would not so far blaspheme as to impute to Him a pretension of revelation, couched at the same time in terms which, He would know, were never to be understood by those to whom they were addressed.”
Thomas Paine wrote in The Age of Reason, “It is only through the
exercise of reason that man can discover God.” To Deists, the only
“Word of God” is the universe itself, of which we are all a living part.
Deists see, as former proponent of Atheism and now current Deist
Antony Flew pointed out, that applying our reason to the designs in
the Creation we are pointed to the Designer. When we contemplate
the working code in DNA, which by definition is intelligence dependent,
we can see the work of the Supreme Intelligence. Again, Mr. Paine put
it very eloquently in The Age of Reason when he wrote, “It is only in the
CREATION that all our ideas and conceptions of a word of God can unite.
The Creation speaks an universal language, independently of human
speech or human language, multiplied and various as they may be. It
is an ever-existing original, which every man can read. It cannot be forged;
it cannot be counterfeited; it cannot be lost; it cannot be altered; it
cannot be suppressed. It does not depend upon the will of man whether
it shall be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth
to the other. It preaches to all nations and to all worlds; and this word of
God reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God.”
Although I had stopped participating in organized religion some years ago, I had been a Christian all of my life. After retirement, I had the opportunity to read and study the Bible in depth for myself. My epiphany came when I read Job 1:6-12 and realized something was wrong. My realizations came in four stages, as follows:
Stage 1 - The “Seed of Doubt”
- I had always been taught that Satan and his followers had been thrown out of heaven; and yet, in Job 1:6, Satan waltzes into the presence of Almighty God at will?!
Question: You mean no army of angels tried to stop the “epitome of evil” from re-entering heaven and God’s presence?!
- Then, in Job 1:7, God casually says to Satan, “Where have you come from?” And Satan casually answers, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”
Question: You mean that God didn’t immediately banish Satan from His presence, but instead strikes up a “chummy” conversation with him?! And wouldn’t an omnipotent God already know where Satan had come from without asking?
- Then, in Job1:8, God “brags” to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
Question: Is God displaying “pride?” I had been taught that God hates pride. Yet here He is displaying a characteristic I am supposed to fight within myself! Is God asking me to strive to be something He is not? And who does God go to for forgiveness for His pride?
- Then, in Job 1:9, 10, and 11, Satan sees God’s pride, and cunningly uses it to “tempt” Him as follows: “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.” [Then comes the bate] “But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
Question: Can Satan tempt God just like he tempts me?! Between these two, who am I to believe is the wise one and who is the foolish one?!
- Then, in Job 1:12, God takes Satan’s bate and gives him power over everything Job owns; but Satan is to spare Job’s life.
Question: If Job (“…blameless and upright…who fears God and shuns evil“) doesn’t deserve God’s protection from the “evil one,” then who does?! Am I to believe that the “gotcha” game with Satan is more important to God than Job?!! Are these verses in Job supposed to inspire me to live a blameless and upright life knowing that someday God might throw me under the bus just to score a mark on His side in the game against Satan?!
- The rest of the book tells how Satan destroys everything Job has (children, wife, possessions, health), and how Job endures the ire of his so-called “friends.” And yet, through it all, Job remains faithful to his God.
Question: If I (a mere human) had great compassion for Job’s suffering, and would have stopped it if I had the power, then am I to believe that my compassionate, loving God would have allowed Job’s suffering to go on and on to the lengths that it did just to prove a point and boost His ego?! Death would have been a welcome relief to Job, but God had forbidden Satan to take Job’s life which just prolonged his agony! Is this “horror of horrors” what the Bible wants me to believe happens to you when you have committed your life to serving and pleasing God?!
My First “Reasoned” (or AH-HA) Moment: This certainly is not a picture of the God I have believed in all my life! I had always believed that the Bible was the inerrant word of God, and yet the Book of Job is out of sync with everything I have believed about a loving, compassionate, and just God. There was nothing loving, compassionate, or just about what happened to Job! Therefore I “reasoned” that if I doubted Job, then I would have to rethink my belief in the Bible’s inerrancy, and all of my other religious beliefs.
“Stage 2 - “THE Seeking”
For several days I was numb and afraid to face my “reasoned” doubt. Where would I go from here?
Stage 3 - “THE Watering”
Then, while listening to a radio program where religious judgments and beliefs were being discussed, a caller to the program told of his journey to Deism and how he is now a proud member of the World Union of Deists (WUD). His testimony “watered” my “seed of doubt,” and I was immediately interested in what the caller had to say.
Stage 4 - “THE Nurturing”
I quickly began my research into Deism, which led me to the WUD website. As I began to read the information provided about Deism, it “nurtured” my “seeking” mind, and I had the same revelation as many others:
My Second “Reasoned” (AH-HA) Moment: “Deism is what I have been searching for all my life!” I finally feel free! Free to use my God-given “reason” to decide what my beliefs really are without any artificial set of man-made rules or ideologies!
Well, this is my testimony. By “testimony,” I am referring to the first “reasoned” experience (or “ah ha” moment) that plants the “seed of doubt” in every Deists mind; and then the journey that leads them from that doubt to the second “reasoned” experience (or “ah ha” moment); i.e., “Deism is what I have been searching for all my life!”
After reading the book, Deism: A Revolution in Religion, A Revolution in You, I have the following questions:
1. Did I comprehend (perhaps wrongly) that the writer has vitriolic feelings toward those of other religious beliefs? Although I too believe there are charlatans that knowingly misrepresent themselves in all “revealed” religions, I do not feel vitriol toward their misled followers. The intentions of those followers are probably good, but I now understand that they are as I was for many years; i.e., misled, misinformed, and conflicted without realizing or admitting it. However, if I had retained my Christian beliefs until my death, I expect the final outcome would have been the same (whatever that outcome may be).
2. Isn’t the term “activist Deist” an oxymoron?
a. If Deists don’t want “bible thumpers” forcing their beliefs on them, then how can Deists “reason” they are different? If anyone had tried to “cold witness” to me about Deism, I would have rejected it out of hand as another lie of Satan trying to destroy Christianity. The “seed of doubt” had to come from my own God-given reason, and I am sure it is the same with all Deists.
b. However, if “activist Deist” refers to one who is working to forward a moral agenda or special interest, then how are they different from the “Moral Majority” and other religious/political groups that use or “misuse” religion and beliefs to forward their own moral or political agenda? I do not believe that one can incite (through activism), deceive ( through charlatanism), or impassion (through emotionalism) another to believe or accept something and expect it to be real. One must come to that belief through ones own “reasoned” enlightenment (intellectualism) before it is real to them.
I would like to suggest that the enlightenment of others to Deism is a three-fold path which avoids the use of activism, charlatanism, and emotionalism, as follows:
First, through personal testimony (the two “ah ha” moments) offered at an appropriate time to a “seeking” mind, just as the caller’s testimony on the radio program was for me. He “watered” the “seed of doubt” that was already planted by my own “reasoned” thought.
Second, through information (such as that offered on the WUD website) to “nurture” those who are already “seeking” to understand their misguided and misinformed thinking.
Third, through education of Deists, such as the cards, pamphlets, and books offered on the WUD website. This education prepares Deists to intellectually “nurture” the “seeking” mind by answering questions about Deism, and by sharing where one can find more information for themselves.
I believe the “seed of doubt” must first be planted in the fertile ground of ones own mind through ones own “reasoned” thought and experiences (intellectualism). But once that seed is planted (Stage 1) and one is “seeking” (Stage 2), then I believe this is the point where Deists can “water” that seed (Stage 3), and “nurture” the seeking mind (Stage 4). Then Deists can step out of the way so that the “seeking” mind can complete its own journey to beliefs that are “reasoned“ and “real” for them. To quote Blaise Pascal,"We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others."
"After reading the book, Deism: A Revolution in Religion, A Revolution in You, I have the following questions:
"Did I comprehend (perhaps wrongly) that the writer has vitriolic feelings toward those of other religious beliefs?"
I do not have vitriolic feelings towards those of other religious beliefs. Here's what I wrote in the book:
"At the same time we are boldly promoting Deism, we need to do it in a nonintrusive way. For example, we should bring it up whenever the opportunity arises but stop talking about it once the person or persons we are talking to make it clear they are not interested. However, we should not stop talking about it just because someone disagrees with us. Disagreement allows for a civil free exchange of ideas which is a requirement for progress. And just because we are, for example, pointing out absurdities in the Bible or Koran doesn’t mean we can’t do it in a very polite way. We should always be polite and avoid attacking people personally. Always remember that Deists don’t hate the superstitious, we just hate the superstition!"
"Isn’t the term “activist Deist” an oxymoron?"
No. Why do you use the term "activist Deist" when I never used the term in my book? According to the dictionary, "activist" means someone who has a political or social agenda. An active Deist is a Deist who simply lets other people know there is such a thing as Deism. Do you believe Deists should keep quite about Deism? Please see above extract from Deism: A Revolution in Religion, A Revolution in You.
"If Deists don’t want “bible thumpers” forcing their beliefs on them, then how can Deists “reason” they are different?"
We do not force Deism on anyone, we just let people know there is such a thing as Deism and if it interests them we answer their questions. Plus, please see extract above as it makes clear we do not push Deism on anyone.
"If anyone had tried to “cold witness” to me about Deism, I would have rejected it out of hand as another lie of Satan trying to destroy Christianity. The “seed of doubt” had to come from my own God-given reason, and I am sure it is the same with all Deists."
Your experience is not the same as is the experience with all Deists. For example, I was a devout Christian and had to read The Age of Reason for school. I was so upset with Paine's objective observations on the Bible and Christianity that I did as you said you would have done. I was upset and threw the book on the floor. However, those objective observations of his became seeds of doubt in my mind. A couple of years latter when I was being more honest and objective about Christianity, I reflected back on what I read in The Age of Reason and read it cover to cover and became a Deist. (All this is already in my book.)
"However, if 'activist Deist' refers to one who is working to forward a moral agenda or special interest, then how are they different from the “Moral Majority” and other religious/political groups that use or “misuse” religion and beliefs to forward their own moral or political agenda? "
Active Deists are forwarding Deism. They are doing their part to make sure that people are aware that Deism is a valid and reasonable option for them, that they are not limited to "revealed" religion, Atheism or Agnosticism. (You are misquoting "active" Deist for "activist" Deist. I never used "activist" Deist in my book. Why do you use it?)
"I would like to suggest that the enlightenment of others to Deism is a three-fold path which avoids the use of activism, charlatanism, and emotionalism, as follows:
"First, through personal testimony (the two “ah ha” moments) offered at an appropriate time to a “seeking” mind, just as the caller’s testimony on the radio program was for me. He “watered” the “seed of doubt” that was already planted by my own “reasoned” thought."
As mentioned above, not everyone comes to be a Deist in the same way you did. Also, if it were not for the active Deist who called the radio program to promote Deism when you happened to be listening to that program, you never would have learned of Deism, at least not at that time. You should be thankful for that active Deist. That is what the World Union of Deists is trying to do through advertising Deism. If we could put ads for Deism so every day people hear about Deism, there would be millions of people who have the same enlightening experience you did when you heard the Deist on the radio, or millions of people would have the seed of doubt planted in them in regards to the unreasonable teachings of the "revealed" religions.
"I believe the “seed of doubt” must first be planted in the fertile ground of ones own mind through ones own “reasoned” thought and experiences (intellectualism). But once that seed is planted (Stage 1) and one is “seeking” (Stage 2), then I believe this is the point where Deists can “water” that seed (Stage 3), and “nurture” the seeking mind (Stage 4). Then Deists can step out of the way so that the “seeking” mind can complete its own journey to beliefs that are “reasoned“ and “real” for them. To quote Blaise Pascal, "We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others."
Since we are all different, different things work for different people. Deists and the World Union of Deists need to cover all the bases.
Progress! Bob Johnson
DEISM>>>>LOOK WHAT IT SAYS..what is this..THEY CHANGED THE WORDS AROUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Koran, at Surah 4:34 says, "Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great."
WHAT IT REALLY SAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!>>The Quran....
[4:34] The men are made responsible for the women, and GOD has endowed them with certain qualities, and made them the bread earners. The righteous women will cheerfully accept this arrangement, since it is GOD's commandment, and honor their husbands during their absence. If you experience rebellion from the women, you shall first talk to them, then (you may use negative incentives like) deserting them in bed, then you may (as a last alternative) beat them. If they obey you, you are not permitted to transgress against them. GOD is Most High, Supreme.
CHECK YOUR SOURCES BEFORE BELIEVING everything YOU READ....and if you want to know about the whole fighting issue...email me :)..because you can't trust everything you read online..yes god gave us the ability to REASON....unlike other animals...which is why we're on the top of the food chain...but where did deism fall from? religion existed thousands of years ago...surely the things written in these books (i.e Quran, Bible<old testament>) aren't .....all which are similar....weren't there to entertain humans.... USE YOUR BRAINS>.WHERE DID MORALS COME FROM??? Where it VALUES COME FROM when people lived like savages back than.....OF COURSE you live in the 21st century and you THINK everything was like that thousands of years ago...I'll tell you the answer my dear friends..its RELIGION!
Tell me whoever made this spectacular website..state your sources...if ISLAM IS SO dangerous...the way some people make it seem..why is it the world's fastest growing religion??? why don't you pick up a Quran and stop listening to people to who don't know what they are talking about.....STAY INTELLIGENT despite your education....TO HAVE FAITH IN THE WORLD TODAY IS TO ASK QUESTIONS AND NEVER HAVE THE WORLD PULLED OVER YOUR EYES.............
[4:90] Exempted are those who join people with whom you have signed a peace treaty, and those who come to you wishing not to fight you, nor fight their relatives. Had GOD willed, He could have permitted them to fight against you. Therefore, if they leave you alone, refrain from fighting you, and offer you peace, then GOD gives you no excuse to fight them.
[4:91] You will find others who wish to make peace with you, and also with their people. However, as soon as war erupts, they fight against you. Unless these people leave you alone, offer you peace, and stop fighting you, you may fight them when you encounter them. Against these, we give you a clear authorization.
im always open for debate :)
You bring up some interesting points. The first is that there are different translations of the Koran. That is true. However, I will not bother to learn ancient Arabic unless someone can prove to me that the Koran is the Word of God--or something like that. God knows my address, my language, and can speak English. So God can talk with me directly in English if God does not want me to think for myself. God remains hidden and silent, though, only speaking through God's creation, the universe. Therefore, I must think for myself.
Another interesting point you made is expressed in these words: "where did deism fall from? religion existed thousands of years ago." Yes, religion has existed for thousands of years, and religion influenced philosophy, which is what Deism is--a type of philosophy. A philosophy is a system of beliefs which is based on reason. Simply speaking, a religion is a system of beliefs which is not based on reason. It is based on mythology and tradition. Reason is a much better guide for living than mythology and tradition, at least in most cases.
The relationship between religion and philosophy is like the relationship between astrology and astronomy. Astrology is nonsense based on the observation of stars, planets, and galaxies. It gradually led to the science known as astronomy, which is a very useful and genuinely fascinating endeavor. Likewise, religion led to philosophy. Much religion is nonsense based on myth and tradition, and the best of philosophy, such as Deism, is very useful and genuinely fascinating.
I would rather base my beliefs on reason than faith. Reason is one's ability to perceive reality as honestly and completely as one can, and then make logical conclusions based on what one perceives. Even though one's reason is imperfect, it still is the best means to believe what is true and disbelieve what is false. On the other hand, to quote Mark Twain, "Faith is being convinced that what you don't believe is true." You gotta love Mark Twain!
I want to end by directly answering your question: Why is Islam the world's fastest growing religion? Islam does have some good teachings. For example, Islam teaches that God is one person; in fact that is a central teaching of Islam. Deism agrees with that, and such true monotheism is far superior to polytheism or the orthodox Christian doctrine of the trinity, which is nonsensical. Most Christians basically believe that God is one person who is somehow three persons. Nonsense!
Yet Islam is far from perfect. I have read the Koran, and, to be frank, found it very boring. It mainly rehashed Old Testament stories and was very repetitious. I found very few moral teachings in it, so, I assume, that most Muslim doctrines come from the Hadiths, which I do not plan to read. I can, however, criticize Islam (and the Koran) for teaching people to base their beliefs on faith rather than reason. That is bad, and if you want to know more about why that is bad, please read the attachment to this email.
I look forward to your response.
May reason prevail!
Deputy Director, WUD
Deists Don't Have to Agree on Everything
by Bob Johnson
When I talk to people about Deism, and when I make posts to different places on the internet, I get a lot of questions about how Deism relates to various issues. For example, life after death. Personally, I take the stand that no one knows for certain. Some Deists, like Ray Fontaine, believe strongly that there is nothing after our bodies die. Then, there are Deists like Ben Franklin who strongly believe in an after-life.
There are controversial issues like abortion. I believe, based on reason, nature and science, that at the time of conception a new individual is created. Therefore, I believe that abortion on demand is wrong. Fellow active Deist Pauline Rocco and I put a page up regarding this question. http://www.deism.com/abortion.htm
In relation to being a Deist, it doesn't matter what your beliefs are on these topics or any others. A Deist is simply a person who believes in God/Creator/Designer who designed and created the universe, and who also rejects the unreasonable "revealed" religions based on their irrational claims that contradict our God-given reason. Our Bible is the creation and nature. There is nothing more required to be a Deist.
Just because we have differences on some of these issues doesn't mean we should stop working together to advance Deism. We need to do everything we possibly can to get the word out about Deism. Think of how much better society and the lives of individuals would be if we were not burdened down with the superstition and fear based revealed religions. We can make a very positive difference in this world through Deism. It's up to us.
Below is one of many emails/letters I received from someone who has
been helped by our efforts to spread Deism. There are millions more like
him out there who we really need to reach with the message of
reason-friendly Deism. Once enough people are reached, the dark days of
"revealed" religion will be over and true natural progress will begin.
What are you doing to make that day a reality?
I have long been a very active member of a Christian church and in recent years I have really started to question everything. I think God is a God of reason and order and sense. The more I studied and questioned the more I found myself separated from what I had always held as the truth.
Up until now I thought I was out here all by myself. I knew nothing
of Deism and without ever reading any materials on Deism until tonight I
have come to virtually the exact same conclusions as what I have been
reading on your website. Even where Jesus is concerned. I really
appreciated the quote from Thomas Jefferson talking about Jesus never
talking about himself as God incarnate etc. etc. It was the subsequent
religious leaders that painted that picture. I am not sure I think they
were all money motivated, but you know it had something to do with it.
It is so encouraging and refreshing to realize that I am not crazy or .
. . whatever. I have still been accompanying my wife to church, but the
rubbish that is taught seems so demeaning once you start allowing
yourself the luxury of actually using your God given mind. I am located
in Vancouver WA and I was wondering if there are any congregations of
Deists that believe as you do in this area. I am looking forward to
staying tuned in to your website. Thank you so much for all the good
Hello Mr. Johnson!
I have a question about Deism. If you choose to use this question and answer in your newsletter, I would insist upon my part of it being anonymous. Thanks for your consideration.
And now, my question. For some years, I have been a committed Catholic.
Catholicism is an incredibly awesome school for the soul. People who have lived Catholicism well have been very strong of spirit, unflappable, loathe to abuse anyone for any reason, staunch supporters of the rights of the helpless, committed to developing schools and reaching those who lack development, and much more besides. Catholic literature is the most advanced on earth in describing how to develop the soul, how to live a holy life, how to be good. Not many Catholics live up to it, but those who do, Wow. You can really see the character shining through them. They live balanced lives, too, not sacrificing family for work, and not failing to do well in their work.
I think that Deism makes more sense overall. But sometimes I yearn for the character development that comes with Catholicism. A Catholic must be careful in his actions and his thoughts, and if he isn't, he must go to Confession, which is a very holy experience that is not available in any other format. Also it is such a complete experience. The entire year is bound up in beautiful details, pertaining to recognition of those who have gone before us, and to the phases of the year. With Deism, you're on your own. You can ponder the solstice or the workings of nature, but there is no holy site for pilgrims, there is no weekly ritual of interior cleansing, and frankly, if you want to sin, well, there's no Confessional to report to. Nobody is holding your feet to the fire.
The problem with an organized religion can be seen most clearly in the epistemologic difficulties surrounding the boundaries of who is 'in' and who is 'out'. At the boundary, it is obvious that there is a degree of arbitrariness about it, that reason is being bent to serve the perceived need to maintain the boundary. So logically, it is pierced. But oh, the glories of past saints, all their sacrifices, all the love that honest and simple worshippers have felt in trudging through the snow to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, the sanctuary to go when one has a problem, it is possible to miss all that. And the Catholic writings are excellent philosophical treatises on how to be holier.
I guess the question is, what can you say to people who miss the beautiful aspects of the religion they leave behind? Certainly organized religions have ugly aspects, but it's not all ugliness.
Thanks for reading.
Hello and thanks for your email. If I do use it I will keep it anonymous.
Regarding your question of what a Deist can say to a person about the beautiful aspects of the religion they have left behind for Deism, I'd say thank God for your reason which allowed you to free yourself from delusion and to get closer to God. Deists believe that God is real based on the application of our God-given reason on the designs found throughout Nature. Our God-given reason also tells us the stories in the Bible, Koran, etc. are not real. Therefore, if we really value God and want to be closer to God we must deal with reality, not manmade myths and superstitions. Our God-given reason allows us to do this and it's something to be profoundly grateful for.
When you write that Catholics are loathe to abuse anyone, I can't help but think of the thousands of innocent children who were raped and sexually abused by priests. And it's not just the individual priests who are to blame. The Church itself had a policy of simply moving the pedophile priests to new parishes where they would continue their crimes against children and Nature. Perhaps the child molesting clergy did not read the Catholic literature that is so good for the soul.
When you stop and think about it, the Catholic Church is based on the lies found in the Bible. Anything that is based on lies is fundamentally flawed. When ex-Catholics, or any ex-revealed religionist, realizes the reality of that fact, they must be eternally thankful that they are no longer victims of ancient superstitions and fears.
As a Deist you can live a balanced life, have a great family and help society all without being a victim of delusion. That's something to be very thankful for!
Deism is light years ahead of the Catholic Church and all of the "revealed" religions in character development. The Bible teaches to do good so you can get a reward. Deism teaches to do good because it's the right thing to do. What a higher level of morality Deism is! The key to Christianity is a pass to heaven. Deism says to love God even though we don't know what, if anything, happens to us when we die. Again, Deism is way ahead of Christianity and the Catholic Church since Deism's love of God is unconditional.
If Deism was dishonest, we could offer confession, too. However, we would rather be honest and stick to reality. When a Catholic confesses their "sins" to a priest, nothing has changed. The act was still done. If they hurt someone, that person is still hurt. It's just a psychological game the Church plays on its followers to have more control over them and to increase their funding. I sincerely don't believe people need other people who call themselves "holy men" to hold their feet to the fire. I like what Thomas Paine wrote in The Age of Reason: "Were man impressed as fully and as strongly as he ought to be with the belief of a God, his moral life would be regulated by the force of that belief; he would stand in awe of God and of himself, and would not do the thing that could not be concealed from either. To give this belief the full opportunity of force, it is necessary that it acts alone. This is Deism."
Regarding "holy sites", in Deism the entire Universe is a holy site because the Creation is the Designer's design. Not only is there no intermediate, we are all actual parts of it! That is truly awesome when you think about it!
When you write that "reason is being bent" in order to maintain Catholic teachings, you need to ask yourself who gave you reason and who gave you the Catholic teachings. Of course, the answers are God gave you reason and man gave you the Catholic teachings. It's then a question of what is more important to you, your gift from God of reason, or the manmade teachings of the Church.
As Deism grows I want to have Deist Reason Centers around the world. Deist Reason Centers would be staffed by one or two Deists who would answer questions from visitors. Each Deist Reason Center would have a library of books on Deism and free thought as well as books and DVDs on Nature, science, etc. They would also have a decent telescope so people could view more of our Creator's Creation. In addition I would like them to have volunteer doctors, nurses and dentists who could help the uninsured and under insured and those who weren't able to be healed by a faith-healer get proper medical and dental care. Being at these Deist Reason Centers would offer similar, and deeper, warm feelings for Deists who take part in them as what revealed religionists feel when taking part in their particular "revealed" religion's gatherings. The major difference would be that the Deist gatherings are based on altruistic actions minus superstition.
I hope this answers your excellent question. Please feel free to ask any question you may have, or a follow up question, regarding Deism and I'll do my best to answer.
Progress! Bob Johnson
"Yes, both Judaism and Islam are so-call revealed religions. But I think it is unarguable that Christianity is the most insidious of all due to its teaching of original sin. Just contemplate the contrast....the Jews teach their children that they are born into the tribe of "god's chosen people" and all the other stuff that goes along with that. Can you imagine the effect on a child's self-esteem to be told such a favorable thing?....and yet for two thousand years, christians insanely told their own flesh and blood that they were 'born in sin and deserving of death but only because god was good enough to send his son TO DIE FOR THEIR SINS did they even have a chance to go to heaven.'
"This is the psychological warfare mind control that drove Europe into the Dark Age. As you must know, the pre-christians of Europe-- the so called pagans-- never told their children such mind warping LIES. That is the reason why civilizations continued to prosper and advance until the advent of christianity. The real legacy of christianity is the Dark Age." Theano
"Let me open with stating that I believe that
everyone is entitled to
believe how they want to believe. I also believe that when you
restrict yourself to what you have grown-up being told and refuse to
look at things logically and with a sense of reason that you become a
prisoner of those thoughts/beliefs and are suppressing your gift of
"I believe there is a power out there that no one can comprehend. This
power is found everywhere and in all of nature. The conception of a
child, the sprouting of a seed to a tree, the wind, the tides, and
the stars in the sky are all evidence of an unconceivable and
incomprehensible power. This is God.
"I do not believe in a jealous spirit who chose a special group of
people and guided them to a special land (which has been ravaged by
war for as long as history has been recorded).
"I do not believe in a gullible spirit who allowed a snake in a garden
to outwit him and as punishment he cursed every person that followed
with "original sin". (This one really bugs me - a newborn cannot
possibly already be a sinner.)
"I do not believe in an insecure spirit who only trusted ONE man - a
900 year old guy who he forced to build a boat and collect a male and
female of every species (insects included) so he could destroy the
planet with a flood because he lost control of his people.
"I do not believe in a spirit who gave a man the power to part an
ocean, spoke through a burning bush, or allowed a man to clumsily
drop tablets that contained the rules (commandments) to live by
"I do not believe in an spirit who saw no other way of "saving"
mankind then to send his "only son" to earth in a human form to
conduct a suicide mission. Nor do I believe that same person came
back to life and later floated off into the clouds.
"I believe the power that caused the creations of the past and those
still occurring now are explained by the existence of a deity, a
power, and I, like many others, do not believe this god to be the
one described in the bible, the torah, or the Koran. I believe the
word of god to be what is found in nature and what is found in our
inner sense of reason and morality.
"For years I actually thought that my "faith" was weak and that I was
not a good Christian and needed to pray and read my bible. Prayer -
helped a little but, the bible did not. The bible just casted more
doubt because as I read the bible I found so many things wrong with
it. There were just too many things in it that defied reason and there
were many things in the bible that portray god as jealous and weak.
These are human weaknesses and imperfections that cannot possibly
exist in a deity. This is not god. It’s also appalling to accept that
god would allow an additional all powerful evil deity - Satan.
"I know many Christians and most are good and honest people who
believe and do good deeds in the name of Jesus. At times I feel sorry
for them because they feel they have to do good deeds for the "glory
of god" and to earn "salvation" and that they can never do enough.
Truth is they can just do them because its just the right thing to do
and it feels good. They don't need to live with the threat of eternal
damnation if they do not believe in things that totally defy reason.
The threat of eternal damnation and the promise of everlasting life
are unproven and baseless. No one has ever died and come back from
the dead so there is no evidence or facts that attribute to what can
happen to us when our body expires. Many people believe solely
because they are told to and if they don't they will go to hell. This
is not faith this is spiritual extortion. There is no proof of a
heaven or a hell. We can hope for something more; and given the
beauty of nature and the perfection of the design we can trust that
there is something after this life but, it is the same for everyone -
regardless of your faith.
"If this appears as though I am attacking Christians I am sorry but, I
get really angry when I see people throw words around like "Jesus is
the Reason for the Season" and America is a "Christian Nation". Both
of these are false. "Christmas" was originally the celebration of
the winter solstice (Yule) and it was replaced in attempt to stamp
out "paganism." Jesus was not born on December 25 and anyone who
believes that doesn't know their own bible. Shepherds did not tend
to their flocks at night in December! And America was not founded as
a Christian nation. Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and many others
were not Christians - they were deists. The very proof of this is in
our Declaration of Independence. You see the words Nature's God, the
Creator, and divine providence - nowhere does it mention "our
heavenly father" or "our lord and savior Jesus Christ". Sorry folks -
its not there.
"I believe the bible to be the all-time best selling work of fiction.
It contains just as much violence as it does moral teaching but, it
is not a book of facts. You may recall the outrage over the book -
The Davinci Code. This is a work of fiction that scared the church
so much that they forbid Christians to read it. Is a fictional book
really dangerous enough to cause people to doubt what the bible and
the church say? This happened before.... Galileo was blasphemous and
declared a heretic when he said that the earth was not the center of
the universe. Columbus was considered a fool and also a heretic when
he claimned the earth was round. They even excommunicated a monk -
Martin Luther - when he nailed the 95 theses (or 95 things wrong with
the church) on the door of a church on All Hallows Eve.
"The church was even outraged at the printing of the Gutenberg Bible!
For those of you who are not familiar, the Gutenberg Bible was the
first bible printed and made available to regular people. God forbid
anyone other than the clergy have a bible! They might actually see
that they were lying about so many things - like tithes and
indulgences. I am not saying the bible is all bad. There are a lot
of good moral teachings contained in some of the books. The story of
the Good Samaritan is great moral lesson. However, as I said before
I do not believe it is a book of facts and given the fact it is
authored by man it contains errors, untruths and weighted opinions.
Many of which have been altered and distorted by numerous
translations and revisions.
"I will close this post as I opened it in saying that everyone is
entitled to believe as they choose. I also believe everyone should
be allowed to express their beliefs without being threatened with
hell for believing the way they do. I have often said and still very
much believe that god is like ice cream. There are many flavors -
chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and swirls - many flavors but, its
all ice cream. So believe what you choose and not because you grew
up a certain way. Believe in something that you can believe in
without doubts. If things you have been taught are not believable
and defy nature and reason well, then they are not true and forcing
yourself to believe them is a waste of time and does nothing but give
you a sense of emptiness.
"In God I Trust.. Nature's God, the creator, the divine providence." Nelson
Deist Talking Points Brought Out by Sincere Questions From a Young Christian
I am a mere teenager of 14 years of age, and a couple years ago i came across the term "deism" in a library book, and was curious about it, but just forgot about it. Now recently i read the book again, and my curiosity stuck. I have done extensive research on the subject, but your site was the only one that really encourged me to shy off the christianity i grew up with and convert to deism as it directly cited where the facts in the points you made were coming from. But obviously i have my doubts. The main thing i fear in converting would be damnation to hell. I have figured that this is the main concern for any christian considering a different religion.
You're basis on reasoning and logic really make sense to me, as i have practiced vipassana meditation for quite a while now. I do have one question for you though. If God is an omniscient entity and he created the world, then why wouldn't he give us some sort of revelation or sign, such as the ascension of jesus or why and how were the adam & eve myths created, and who do you believe came up with them? I really do hope to recieve some sort of response, but i do not expect my questions to be answered overnight, but just whenever you have spare time.
Hello Felicity. Thanks for your email and interest in Deism! I'm very happy thatwww.deism.com has helped you!
When people leave a "revealed" religion or Atheism for Deism, it's more like an evolution than a conversion. Conversions seem to be based more on emotions while evolving is based more on reason.
You don't have to fear hell because it is not reasonable to even believe that it exists. It is not in line with our God-given reason to think that God would torture people through burning them for eternity in hell. The idea and myth of hell was started by the ancient clergy to use fear to control their fellow human beings. At the same time it sets up a false need for Christianity and Islam, since they teach that if you buy into the nonsense that they're selling you will not go to hell. Of course, the Christians believe the Muslims are going to hell and vice versa! Also, Christianity itself is not clear on how to be saved from hell. For example, in Matthew 19:17 the Bible writers wrote that Jesus said, "If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.", while Romans 3:28 says, "A man is justified by faith without the deeds of law." These two Bible quotes contradict each other about the biggest selling point of Christianity, eternal salvation!
Regarding your question, "If God is an omniscient entity and he created the world, then why wouldn't he give us some sort of revelation or sign, such as the ascension of jesus?" Deists believe that God did give us the revelation that God exists through the designs in Nature. Deists see the designs in Nature as evidence of the Designer of Nature. Something like the alleged ascension of Jesus would not serve to reveal anything to anyone other than the very limited number of people who actually saw it. Everyone else that they told about it who didn't see it for themselves would have to put their faith in the person telling them about it, and not put it in God. However, the Creation and all it's beauty and designs are free for absolutely everyone to see and experience. It truly is a universal revelation!
"how were the adam & eve myths created?" Most historians believe it was originally a Babylonian myth that the ancient Jews picked up while captive in Babylon. Almost every ancient culture had their own creation myth many of which borrowed from each other.
I hope this answers your excellent questions. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have regarding Deism and I'll do my best to answer them.
Progress! Bob Johnsonwww.deism.com
Interesting Exchange Between a Christian and a Deist
A new subscriber from Australia recently sent me an exchange he had while instant messaging with a Christian friend of his. The exchange is very revealing and helps to demonstrate some of the major holes in Christianity.
Christian: So how's your research going on deism?
Deist: yeah, really good. I have worked everyday this week so I have been busy but I am feeling very good about it.
Christian: ok thats cool...I was reading my bible a few weeks ago and I stumbled across a verse that I thought I'd share with you. That is if you're interested.
Deist: You are more than welcome to share it with me mate.
Christian: You remember when you were saying that God is not fair and how he could let so many people die in the fires, people suffering in Africa etc.? (As Deists we openly realize how little we really know. Albert Einstein gave a great analogy when he wrote, "I'm not an atheist, and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations." We don't have all the answer to question like why is there suffering, however, we do use our reason to get closer to an understanding. Read this article on evolution, nature and progress. The editor.)
Deist: I sure do.
Christian: I've found a verse, in fact a whole passage that talks
about this. The reference is
onwards. 14 Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not!
15 For God said to Moses,
“I will show mercy to anyone I choose,
and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”*
16 So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
17 For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.”* 18 So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.
19 Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?”
20 No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? 22 In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who were made for destruction. 23 He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory.
Deist: And that is the exact reason why I have gone off Christianity. We are all God's children but he can pick to inflict pain or heal if he wants to but yet we have all these horrible deaths!
Christian: Well he is the potter and we are the clay as the bible
says...The whole point in being Christian is believing the Bible..If you
don't then there's no point...
Also remember that God's children are ONLY the ones who believe in him not the others.. (This type of twisted thinking is what is causing so much violence and suffering in the Middle East. The editor.)
Deist: I respect that you are in a good place with the bible mate and that is cool but man it is not for me.
Deist: I tried to believe but in the end I wasn't
being true to myself and that is what I am going to go by. I will never
pretend to be something I am not.
I know this must be frustrating to you as I was so happy with Christianity a few weeks ago when I studied Matthew but looking back I just wanted to be accepted and find somewhere where I fit in that I let myself think that this was the path for me.
I have to continue on my journey of truth and honesty and I trust God will look after me.
None of this I hope will effect our friendship! It hasn't from my end!
Christian: nah man it wont'.
You have to understand that he is God first of all...
I mean he is just not some normal person.
Deist: Yes, I agree 100%.
Christian: He is God the creator of the universe and everything
Deist: again, I 100% agree.
Christian: I think that's what you are missing.
So he has the right to do what ever he pleases...
Imagine if you created something, like let's say you put together a
car. And then you thought you'd modify it..like remove some parts and
add something else..then you decided that you didn't like it anymore and
finally decided to get rid of the car...!
So you take it to the junk yard and get rid of it for life by crushing it completely..In the same situation God has the right. (It is not logical and goes against our God-given reason to try to compare an inanimate object with a living feeling organism. The editor.)
Deist: Yes, but the bible to me is not proven to be God's word. It is what Christians say is God's word. Humans decided what books to put in and what books were left out. I believe in God and yes I believe he created the universe but I dont agree that the bible is the only truth!
Christian: with what facts do you backup what you just said?
People in the Bible who wrote the books have been guided by the Holy Spirit...Of course they died 1000's of years ago..there would not be pictures of them writing the bible lol.
Deist: There are no facts to say the bible is true
and everything else is wrong. Feel free to prove that the bible is 100%
correct but it never can be.
They claim to be guided but we are humans and we make errors. Who really knows! There have been others who have also claimed to have been guided by God like Emmanuel Swedenborg but Christians just ignored him! (Islam teaches that the Koran is the word of God but non-Islamic revealed religionists don't believe it is. It all depends on what you were taught to believe growing up and how much you use your God-given reason. The editor.)
Christian: What a pity you're arguing with the wrong guy...? lol I really haven't studied deep into the bible like some proffessors have on christian forum..I bet if you ask them there they will be willing to tell you.
Deist: LOL, there is not one person who can prove that the bible is true! (But there are many who can prove it false. The editor.)
Christian: I dont know about those one off people who make their name
now and then...But if i know God's word (THE BIBLE) works in my life
along with many other millions of Christians around the world...The
bible is true no matter what people say against it..
There is nothing to prove in the first place mate...His word works, that's all we need to know.
Deist: Like I said before mate, I am glad that you are happy as with other Christians but I just have too many doubts and God has given us free will and the ability to think for ourslves and that is exactly what I am doing!
I love how we can chat openly about everything!
Christian: He has given us free will that's the dangerous part actually...a little too dangerous I must say...
Deist: I will never argue with you as you have the right for your beliefs but I don't agree.
Christian: The rewards in heaven are just too good to miss out on my friend...
Deist: I will see you there mate!
Christian: Jesus = only way to heaven.
It's brutal but that's the way.
Deist: We can agree to disagree my friend.
Christian: That's where the dangerous choice comes in.
Deist: No, not really. In Deism I believe in a God but I am free to think for myself and not worry about which book is the way and which isn't. From your side as a Christian I understand where you are coming from but mate I have never felt better!
Christian: People never see it but Satan blinds them all the time...He even hardens their heart to keep away from Jesus, tricking them into different religions all the time.
Deist: Yes but was that written many years ago to keep Christians in line and in the church? Who knows? I know you have your faith but once again it is not proof!
Christian: Like I said earlier, there is nothing to prove. God is God
His son Jesus and the Bible.
Deist: That may work for you but it doesn't for me.
Christian: I really hate Satan for this mate... you were so on the
Deist: No, I don't think so. In your eyes I understand what you are saying because you only look at the words of the bible but that doesn't work for me and as I said before I am not going to pretend to be something I am not.
Unbelievable Exchange With a Christian
by Bob Johnson
Below is an exchange I had with a Christian regarding our Take the Bible Test! page and our Is It Time For Christians To Put Up Or Shut Up? page at deism.com. His response demonstrates the clear danger of suppressing your God-given reason in order to believe manmade nonsense as is found in the Bible and other manmade "holy books" and scriptures. Deism has a very important task with very real consequences in exposing and defusing these deadly misconceptions promoted by the "revealed" religions!Greetings,
My name is Brandon. I just took a look at the Deist website, and I must say it is interesting. I examined your "Bible Test" and I wanted to bring some things to your attention:
1)The question "How many contradictory creation of man stories are there in Genesis?" seems unfair. I read some research papers on this and from my understanding the first account describes all seven days, and the second account goes into more detail for some of the days. Could you look into this and, if possible remove the question from the test if you find it unfair?
2) The question "Does the Bible god favor one group of people above all others?" is unfair as well. When the Bible says the Jews are God's "chosen people" it doesn't mean the "likes them more" rather they are the bloodline through which the messiah is born. Could you look into this and, if possible, remove the question?
3) The question "Did the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Abraham, pimp his wife/half-sister?" is misleading. He did not "pimp" them in today's sense of the word. I suggest you research this.
I could write responses to every question on the quiz, but I think this is enough for you to research. I think it is unfair to mis-represent your opponents like this. Please get back to me. Thanks.
Also, I have a question regarding your world view. Given your Deistic theology, how do you view morality? Thanks.
"Religion. Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty & singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, and the consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand, shake off all the fears & servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy & Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example, in the book of Joshua, we are told, the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus, we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, &c. But it is said, that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine, therefore, candidly, what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand, you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis, as the earth does, should have stopped, should not, by that sudden stoppage, have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time gave resumed its revolution, & that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth's motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended & reversed the laws of nature at will, & ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, & the second by exile, or death in fureâ. See this law in the Digest Lib. 48. tit. 19. §. 28. 3. & Lipsius Lib 2. de cruce. cap. 2. These questions are examined in the books I have mentioned under the head of religion, & several others. They will assist you in your inquiries, but keep your reason firmly on the watch in reading them all.
"Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a God, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, & that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a God, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision. I forgot to observe, when speaking of the New Testament, that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us, to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration, as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, and not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost. There are some, however, still extant, collected by Fabricius, which I will endeavor to get & send you."
Progress! Bob Johnson
Below is the Christian's last response which makes it painfully clear just how twisted the Bible can make someone's thinking.
I think you need to be honest with yourself and realize that when it's written that the Jews are "chosen" by God "to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth", that it is one of the very few things in the Bible that is crystal clear! What part of "above all people that are upon the face of the earth" don't you understand??? This is one big Bible lie that is at the root of so much misery and killing over the ages and as is happening right now in Gaza.Do you know why he chose them to be special? It was because they were holy, and it was the bloodline through which His son would be born. Again, I ask you does this lead to a necessary logical contradiction? Is God not allowed to pick a special people for himself? Your arguments seem based off ignorance of the Bible's teachings, rather than necessary logical contradictions.I disagree. In Genesis 12:11-20 he pimped his wife/half-sister by having her lie to the Egyptians and making them think that she was not his wife. He did this out of fear that they would kill him so they could have her. He didn't mind the part of them having her, he just didn't like the part of them killing him. And this Bible "hero" made a lot of material and financial gain by pimping her to the Egyptians! Plus, he did it again at Genesis 20:2, this time with King Abimelech when Sarah was over 90 years old!I wasn't aware pimps today only do it one or two times. Does this offend you? The Bible isn't a big book of rules and stories about ponies, it was written as a history book. Why should any of these stories be removed?
The Christian views he expresses show what a very low and repulsive idea of God Christianity and the Bible promote. I'm reminded of Thomas Paine's words from The Age of Reason, "Is it because ye are sunk in the cruelty of superstition, or feel no interest in the honor of your Creator, that ye listen to the horrid tales of the Bible, or hear them with callous indifference? The evidence I have produced, and shall produce in the course of this work, to prove that the Bible is without authority, will, while it wounds the stubbornness of a priest, relieve and tranquillize the minds of millions, it will free them from all those hard thoughts of the Almighty which priestcraft and the Bible had infused into their minds, and which stood in everlasting opposition to all their ideas of His moral justice and benevolence."
Also, to quote Paine again, "Belief in a cruel god makes a cruel man."
Insightful Exchange Between a Deist and a Christian
THANK YOU FOR EMAILING ME. I WILL RESPOND TO YOUR EMAIL IN TWO WAYS. FIRST, I WILL ADDRESS YOUR ASSERTIONS IN CAPITAL LETTERS THROUGHOUT YOUR EMAIL, AND SECOND, I WILL ATTACH AN ARTICLE/SPEECH I WROTE WHICH EXPLAINS WHY I AM A DEIST RATHER THAN A REVEALED RELIGIONIST (JEW, CHRISTIAN, MUSLIM, HINDU, BUDDHIST, ETCETERA) OR AN ATHEIST OR AGNOSTIC.
Who does the Bible say would become fools? Answer in Romans 1:22 Would you reason that God must be Holy and Righteous? Isaiah 1:16-20 If He is Holy and Righteous, would He allow something or someone that is not Holy and Righteous to be with Him in His presence? Romans 3:23 What is Love? Answer in Romans 5:8, John 3:16-17
TO QUOTE CHIEF WIGGUM FROM "THE SIMPSONS": "THE BIBLE SAYS A LOT OF THINGS." JUST BECAUSE THE BIBLE SAYS SOMETHING, THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE. I CAN WRITE A BOOK THAT SAYS GOD TOLD ME THAT PRESIDENT BUSH IS THE ARCHANGEL GABRIEL IN DISGUISE, BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE. I FIND NO REASON TO TRUST THE BIBLE OVER OTHER SUPPOSEDLY HOLY BOOKS SUCH AS THE KORAN AND THE BOOK OF MORMON.
Through your reasoning, you have created your own God. What if God decides to reveal Himself to mankind through people?
THAT WOULD BE A REFRESHING CHANGE OF DIVINE POLICY.
In fact, the God of the Bible has issued just that in Matthew 28:18-20.
PEOPLE ARE NOT BORN WITH A COPY OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW AND THE ABILITY TO READ. GOD IS A MYSTERY AND SEEMS TO ONLY SPEAK THROUGH CREATION. IT TAKES MUCH TIME, EFFORT, AND HUMILITY TO UNDERSTAND AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE WHAT GOD IS SAYING THROUGH THE UNIVERSE. AS FAR AS I KNOW, THE UNIVERSE IS THE ONLY BOOK THAT GOD EVER WROTE, METAPHORICALLY SPEAKING. PEOPLE WROTE THE BIBLE, AND PERHAPS GOD WROTE THROUGH THOSE PEOPLE. BUT I DOUBT THAT GOD DID. I KNOW FOR CERTAIN, THOUGH, THAT GOD WROTE THE UNIVERSE, SO I WILL RELY ON THE UNIVERSE TO TEACH ME ABOUT GOD.
Would not God who has created everything have power over His own creation to do any unnatural miracles that He desires to do?
YES, BUT GOD REMAINS HIDDEN AND SILENT. IF GOD WORKS ANY MIRACLES, GOD DOES SO IN A WAY THAT MAKES THEM SEEM LIKE THEY COULD JUST BE COINCIDENCES.
Just because you have never seen a Christian lay hands on someone and pray for God to heal them does not mean it cannot happen.
OH, YES I HAVE SEEN "A CHRISTIAN LAY HANDS ON SOMEONE AND PRAY FOR GOD TO HEAL THEM." WHEN I WAS A CHRISTIAN PRIEST, I USED TO DO IT MYSELF. SUCH PRAYERS SEEM TO BE VERY UNEFFECTIVE.
In fact, a person only dies from the last disease that they have. God heals them of all the preceding diseases, if you want to reason about it. Your conception of God has some serious holes in it.
DEISM TEACHES JUST TWO THINGS: 1) ONE SHOULD BASE ONE'S BELIEFS ON REASON, AND 2) REASON LEADS ONE TO CONCLUDE THAT GOD PROBABLY EXISTS. THESE ARE TWO GOOD AND TRUE TEACHINGS. THEY ARE NOT A SUFFICIENT PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY, THOUGH, BY THEMSELVES. THEY ARE JUST THE BEGINNING OF A SUFFICIENT PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY. WHAT FOLLOWS ARE MY SPECULATIVE ANSWERS. THESE ARE MY ANSWERS, NOT THE OFFICIAL ANSWERS OF DEISM.
For example, why has God created a world with so many terrible things to go on in this world like World War I and II, the Black Plague, child molestations, diseases, etc. At least the Bible explains that the earth is cursed because of sin in Genesis 3.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS LIFE IS TO TEACH AND TEST RATIONAL CREATURES, SO ALL CREATURES WILL BE AS GOOD AND HAPPY AS POSSIBLE IN THE NEXT LIFE. GOD ALLOWS SOME EVIL TO PROMOTE MORE GOOD. BESIDES EXCITING STORIES, THE ONLY GOOD THAT CAN COME FROM DOING OR ALLOWING EVIL IS TO TEACH AND TEST RATIONAL CREATURES.
Why would God leave everything to our individual reason?
GOD WANTS TO CREATE BEINGS THAT ARE INTELLIGENT, FREE, AND WISE. GOD REMAINS HIDDEN AND SILENT SO THAT RATIONAL CREATURES WILL HAVE TO THINK FOR THEMSELVES, MAKE MORAL CHOICES, AND GROW IN WISDOM. IF YOU CHOOSE TO BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE, YOU STILL HAVE MADE A CHOICE. I CHOOSE TO THINK FOR MYSELF. WHAT SEEMS TRUE IN THE BIBLE TO ME, I ACCEPT AS TRUE. WHAT SEEMS FALSE IN THE BIBLE TO ME, I ACCEPT AS FALSE.
Why would God not reveal Himself as being the same God to every person?
GOD REVEALS GODSELF IN THE SAME WAY TO ALL PEOPLE THROUGH THE UNIVERSE, WHICH IS THE ONLY BOOK GOD EVER WROTE. PEOPLE, SUCH AS THE WRITERS OF THE BIBLE, WRITE BOOKS WITH PAGES, SO THEY CAN (AND OFTEN DO) WRITE THINGS ABOUT GOD THAT PROBABLY ARE NOT TRUE.
By every person reasoning out for themselves who God is you could end up with a billion different gods.
THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF RIVAL GROUPS OF CHRISTIANS WHICH ALL CLAIM TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE CORRECTLY. THUS, IT IS OBVIOUS THAT BELIEVING IN THE BIBLE WILL NOT PRODUCE UNIFORMITY OF BELIEF. BUT WHY DO YOU WANT UNIFORMITY OF BELIEF? THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH TRIED TO MAKE EVERYONE IN EUROPE BELIEVE ITS NONSENSE FOR CENTURIES, AND THE RESULT WAS FAR LESS THAN IDEAL. REMEMBER THE STORIES OF GALILEO GALILEI AND GIORDANO BRUNO, FOR EXAMPLE. IT IS FAR BETTER TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO BASE THEIR BELIEFS ON REASON AND THEN HAVE FRIENDLY DISCUSSIONS TO HELP EACH OTHER REFINE EACH OTHER'S BELIEFS. THESE ARE USEFUL AND PLEASURABLE ACTIVITIES, ESPECIALLY COMPARED TO SHOUTING MATCHES AND BURNING PEOPLE AT THE STAKE.
I can tell that you really do not know the Bible very well by your website.
I DISAGREE WITH YOU. I STUDIED THE BIBLE FOR YEARS AND ONCE BELIEVED IN IT AS YOU DO, BUT THEN I CAME TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE SO WELL THAT I REALIZED IT IS APPROXIMATELY 50% FALSE AND 10% EVIL.
The truth is that you have to know the God of the Bible before you can understand the Bible. First of all, the men in the Bible are all sinners except Jesus Christ. Only God is righteous. Second of all, God will judge those who violate His laws.
STOP IT! YOU'RE SCARING ME! NOT.
THE LAWS OF THE BIBLE ARE MANMADE LAWS. SOME OF THEM ARE GOOD, AND SOME OF THEM ARE EVIL. I WILL CONSTANTLY TRY TO BE THE BEST PERSON I CAN BE, AND THAT SHOULD BE GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOD. IF I WERE GOD, I WOULD CHOOSE PEOPLE TO GO TO HEAVEN BASED ON HOW GOOD THEY WERE RATHER THAN WHAT THEOLOGY THEY BELIEVED. GOOD PEOPLE DESERVE TO BE REWARDED, AND EVEN VERY EVIL PEOPLE CAN BELIEVE IN THE THEOLOGY OF THE BIBLE. FURTHERMORE, I WOULD TEND TO FAVOR PEOPLE WHO BASED THEIR BELIEFS ON REASON RATHER THAN FAITH BECAUSE THOSE WHO BASE THEIR BELIEFS ON REASON ARE DOING THE BEST THAT THEY CAN TO EMBRACE AND DEAL WITH REALITY. THOSE WHO BASE THEIR BELIEFS ON FAITH HAVE DECIDED TO TAKE THE LAZY AND STUPID WAY OUT. THEY JUST DECIDE THAT SOME RELIGION IS TRUE, DESPITE THE LACK OF EVIDENCE AND THE PROBLEMS IT CAUSES.
The people who God had instructed the Israelites to kill the men, women, and children were people who were burning their children as sacrifices to their gods. Thus, God used the Israelites to judge these wicked people, just as God uses nations today to do His will.
HAVE YOU EVER HEARD THIS SONG? "OH THE PROTESTANTS HATE THE CATHOLICS, AND THE CATHOLICS HATE THE MUSLIMS, AND THE MUSLIMS HATE THE HINDUS, AND EVERYONE HATES THE JEWS!" THE POINT IS THAT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE THROUGHOUT HUMAN HISTORY HAVE MURDERED MILLIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED THAT THEIR RELIGION WAS SUPERIOR. HOW STUPID AND HOW SAD! INTELLIGENT, COMPASSIONATE, AND HUMBLE PEOPLE WOULD AVOID SUCH NEEDLESS DESTRUCTION. AN ISRAELITE COULD NOT PROVE TO A CANAANITE THAT YAHWEH WAS THE TRUE GOD ANYMORE THAN A CANAANITE COULD PROVE TO AN ISRAELITE THAT YAHWEH WAS NOT THE TRUE GOD. THE MOST INTELLIGENT, COMPASSIONATE, AND HUMBLE THING FOR THE ISRAELITE AND CANAANITE TO DO WOULD BE TO EXAMINE THEIR FUNDAMENTAL ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT GOD, GODS, AND REALITY, AND TO CONCLUDE THAT BOTH RELIGIONS ARE PROBABLY INCORRECT. BUT THAT IS ASKING A LOT FROM SOME PEOPLE. THEREFORE, THE LEAST THEY SHOULD DO IS KEEP THEIR RESPECTIVE RELIGIONS AND NOT MURDER EACH OTHER.
THE ISRAELITE INVASION OF THE LAND OF CANAAN WAS NOT A RESCUE MISSION ANYMORE THAN THE EUROPEAN INVASION OF NORTH AMERICA RESCUED THE NATIVE AMERICANS. IT WAS THEFT AND MURDER. THE ISRAELITES STOLE THE LAND OF CANAAN FROM THE CANAANITES AND MURDERED MANY MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN IN THE PROCESS. THEY USED THEIR RELIGION FOR MOTIVATION AND AS AN EXCUSE. IF THE RELIGION OF YAHWEH WERE AS OBVIOUSLY TRUE AS YOU BELIEVE IT IS, THE ISRAELITES OR YAHWEH HIMSELF WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PERSUADE THE CANAANITES THAT THE ISRAELITE RELIGION WAS GOOD AND TRUE AND THE CANAANITE RELIGION WAS EVIL AND FALSE. HOWEVER, THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THAT BOTH RELIGIONS ARE LARGELY FALSE AND EVIL. THEREFORE, THE ISRAELITES RESORTED TO WARFARE RATHER THAN WORDS.
Finally, God wants every person to receive Him. Just as God has created man in His own image to desire to have friends and relationships, God wants to have a personal relationship with us.
THAT SOUNDS NICE. TELL GOD TO STOP ON BY MY APARTMENT SOMETIME, AND WE WILL GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER OVER A COUPLE OF BEERS.
That is why He sent Jesus Christ, His Son, to live on this earth and to die for our sins.
IF GOD DID NOT WANT ME TO SIN, GOD WOULD HAVE MADE ME PERFECT AND WOULD HAVE MADE IT EASY TO JUST DO GOOD. THIS, THOUGH, IS NOT GOD'S IMMEDIATE PLAN.
Hebrews 4:14-16 says, "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which can not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." John 3:12-21-"If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up[on the cross]: That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but He that believeth not is condemned already, because He hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the Light, neither cometh to the Light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But He that doeth truth cometh to the Light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
DO I HAVE TO QUOTE CHIEF WIGGUM AGAIN?
Will you believe on Jesus Christ and trust in His payment on the cross for your sins?
NO, THE DEATH OF JESUS CHANGED NOTHING. PEOPLE STILL ARE A MIXTURE OF GOOD AND EVIL, AND THEY STILL SUFFER AND DIE. YOU SAY THAT THE DEATH OF JESUS ALLOWS SOME PEOPLE TO GO TO HEAVEN, BUT YOU HAVE NO PROOF. YOU WANT ME TO BELIEVE IN YOUR THEOLOGICAL SPECULATIONS IN THIS LIFE AND FOR YOU TO BE PROVEN CORRECT IN THE NEXT LIFE, BUT YOU ARE PROBABLY INCORRECT. I CHOOSE TO THINK FOR MYSELF RATHER THAN TO LET SOMEONE ELSE (FOR EXAMPLE, YOU) OR A SUPPOSEDLY HOLY BOOK (SUCH AS THE BIBLE) THINK FOR ME.
Will you choose a personal God who died for you, or a non-personal, unholy God that left it up to you to figure Him out?
I WILL CHOOSE GOD AS I KNOW GOD, AND I KNOW GOD THROUGH REASON. IF GOD IS DISATISFIED WITH MY THEOLOGY, GOD CAN VISIT ME AND TEACH ME. I AM SURE THAT GOD WOULD BE AN EXCELLENT PROFESSOR.
MAY REASON PREVAIL!
World Union of Deists
The below is an exchange of ideas between a Christian and a Deist. The Deist, Mark Brochu, is our Deist contact for Conneticut. Mark has made several videos about Deism that you can find on www.youtube.com The editor.
Thought Provoking Exchange Between a Christian and a Deist
Tell me, at what point did you give up your faith for reasoning? You do not believe in things you cannot see, or feel, and yet that does not make it any less real. Is the air you breathe any less real because you cannot see it? Is the moon any less real because you cannot see it when it is in the shadow of the earth? You quote scriptures and proclaim them as false because you have never seen nor felt that which it talks about, but can you truly see the working of God or his handy work in creation with all your reasoning and logic? Do you also believe that all things are not possible for God, because that appears to be exactly what you are saying when you claim that something cannot be or cannot exist simply because you do not comprehend or understand it, because there is no know scientific reason for it to be so, or because it seems absurd or illogical to your own reasoning. How trustworthy is your own reasoning when your knowledge and understanding is limited? Your website cites creatures stated in the Bible, such as unicorns, satyrs, and dragons, but how do you know they never existed, and how do you know that your opinion of what they may have been is accurate? For all you know a dragon may have been nothing more than a large lizard, and a satyr nothing more than a variety of goat… or they may have been exactly what people have described them as. I believe nothing is impossible for God. It seems arrogant to me that anyone would believe their own logic and reasoning is superior to that of God. I am not omnipotent nor am I omniscience as God is, but I do have the faith to believe all things are possible when you have unlimited power and knowledge, as God has unlimited power and is all knowing.
"Every person, of whatever religious denomination he may be, is a DEIST in the first article of his Creed. Deism, from the Latin word Deus, God, is the belief of a God, and this belief is the first article of every man's creed.
"It is on this article, universally consented to by all mankind, that the Deist builds his church, and here he rests. Whenever we step aside from this article, by mixing it with articles of human invention, we wander into a labyrinth of uncertainty and fable, and become exposed to every kind of imposition by pretenders to revelation."
This page will be periodically updated.
The survey shows a giant step forward for Deism in the fact that it actually uses the word "Deist" and for the very significant raw numbers it shows as representing the number of people who are Deists. In reality, the number of Deists is actually higher than the survey shows because the survey uses an outdated definition of Deist. For a more accurate definition please see our Deism Defined page.
Click here to read the actual survey. (It's in PDF)
One of the reasons the freethinker Giordano Bruno was tortured and murdered by being burned alive by the Catholic Church during the Inquisition was that he said the Universe is eternal and infinite which violates the superstitions in the Bible found in Genesis. This new study vindicates Bruno.
Obama supporters forget that when all is said and done, Obama is just another politician. This article shows he's proving that he is nothing but a politician by doing more than any other president to mix religion and government, especially through giving tax-dollars to religious organizations.